Former SHS gridder to sign books

STEUBENVILLE – A former city high school football star with ties to a tragic plane crash that killed all players on the Marshall University “Thundering Herd” football team on Nov. 14, 1970, will be in the city signing and selling “Against All Odds: Fourth Down and Forever,” his book on the tragedy and how it affected him.

Lester Hicks, who now lives in Cobb County, Ga., will be signing his book from noon to 5 p.m. Monday at Kroger in the Hollywood Plaza; 1 p.m to 2 p.m. Tuesday at the main branch of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County; and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday again at the Steubenville Kroger.

Hicks, who played defensive end for Steubenville in 1969, had high hopes for a collegiate football career, but he didn’t have the grades for the major college teams, so he decided instead to go to community college at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa, before finally being drafted by Marshall two years later. Hicks played for Marshall from 1972-73.

Hicks ended up playing for the team during a rebuilding time, as the entire team had been killed two years earlier in the plane crash.

Hicks said he was in his dorm room watching a football game on television when the news broke about the crash and the fatalities. The incident affected him deeply, and Hicks said from that day on he decided to devote his life to service.

When Hicks attended Marshall he devoted his career to Scottie Reese, a player who’d been killed in the plane crash two years earlier. Although Hicks said he battled injuries during his career at Marshall, he still excelled on the field, which he attributed to having a high threshold for pain.

The Thundering Herd eventually regrouped over the years and went on to become a powerhouse in collegiate football. Hicks was remembered for his days at Marshall, eventually being named as one of the 125 Most Impactful Black Athletes of the 20th Century by Marshall University’s Black Legends.

Hicks, who now works for Lockheed Martin, has been honored by several organizations for his leadership skills on and off the field. Now married with three daughters and a son, Hicks mentors troubled youth, encouraging them to stay in school and avoid negative temptations.